MATMOS: Supreme Balloon [Matador]

For more than a decade, Drew Daniel and MC Schmidt have been taking electronica for a joyride. They’ve sampled liposuction slurp and bone-crushing crunch for use as dance rhythms. They’ve manipulated banjo, sewer pipes, steel guitar and outdoor ambience. Supreme Balloon is a synthesizer album in the strictest sense. Using nothing but vintage ARPs, Korgs and Moogs—and with guest appearances from veteran Sun Ra octogenarian Marshall Allen and sonic titan Jay Lesser—Supreme Balloon pays homage to these instruments’ pioneers. On opener “Rainbow Flag,” Matmos’ goofiness acknowledges the playful sound of 1966 synth-pop classic The In Sound From Way Out!. For the next several tracks, things remain lighthearted, with farty swishes and gurgles setting up grooves similar to 2001’s surgery-influenced A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure. What keeps Supreme Balloon from trivial silliness, though, is its 24-minute title track, whose relaxed, subtle changes in harmonics and rhythm sound less like a smart-assed dance throwaway and more like the kind of work Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius did with Cluster and Harmonia. Without “Supreme Balloon,” Matmos has made a fun, to-be-forgotten EP. With it, Daniel and Schmidt have created a peculiar album that reminds us of the majesty contained in vintage machinery. []

—Bruce Miller